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Denmark will cease administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, well being officers mentioned Wednesday.
In a statement, the Danish Health Authority emphasised that the shot’s advantages outweigh the dangers for many who do get it, however mentioned that they had determined to discontinue its use due to its potential hyperlink to uncommon circumstances of blood clotting and the “fact that the COVID-19 epidemic in Denmark is currently under control and other vaccines are available.”
“Based on the scientific findings, our overall assessment is there is a real risk of severe side effects associated with using the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca,” mentioned Søren Brostrøm, director basic of the Danish Health Authority. “We have, therefore, decided to remove the vaccine from our vaccination [program].”
All AstraZeneca vaccination appointments will likely be cancelled, and people who have already acquired their first dose will get their second within the type of one other vaccine, officers mentioned. Individuals who’ve had forthcoming appointments cancelled will be capable to reschedule “based on an assessment of the current epidemic situation.”
“The consequence of this decision is that anyone aged 16 or older can expect to receive an offer of vaccination in late June,” officers mentioned. “Thus, everyone who accepts the offer will be fully vaccinated about five weeks later – in early August.”
COVID-19 circumstances and deaths have decreased significantly in Denmark following a winter surge. The nation reported 4,552 new circumstances and 14 deaths previously week, in keeping with data from Johns Hopkins University.
Just beneath 8% of the inhabitants has been absolutely vaccinated, in keeping with Johns Hopkins. Of that group, Reuters reports that 77% obtained the Pfizer vaccine, 7.8% had Moderna and 15.3% acquired AstraZeneca.
Denmark was certainly one of a number of European nations to quickly droop use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid-March so as to examine experiences of uncommon blood clotting occasions in some recipients.
The European Medicines Agency and World Health Organization each continued to suggest its use, and lots of of these nations resumed vaccinations inside a couple of days following a preliminary EMA investigation that concluded its advantages outweighed its dangers.
Wednesday’s announcement comes precisely one week after the EMA mentioned uncommon blood clotting occasions must be listed as a potential aspect impact of the AstraZeneca vaccine, however pressured that it has been confirmed to stop extreme illness, hospitalization and dying from COVID-19. Such clotting occasions are uncommon, officers emphasised, and look like extra frequent in ladies beneath the age of 60.
Several nations together with France, Germany and South Korea have reintroduced the vaccine with age restrictions, whereas others together with Australia, Greece and Britain are actually recommending alternate options for younger folks.
Also on Wednesday, the EMA announced that it’s persevering with to observe the phenomenon of “very rare blood clots with low blood platelets” occurring after vaccination, and can evaluate extra knowledge on the request of the EU’s Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
The evaluate will present extra context on the advantages of ongoing vaccination campaigns, it mentioned, and think about whether or not to replace suggestions for a second dose for many who have already acquired their first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Public well being consultants have been largely hesitant in regards to the concept of blending and matching vaccines with out extra knowledge, and a newly-expanded U.K. study is working to evaluate the potential advantages.
“EMA considers the overall benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks in people being vaccinated,” it mentioned, including that the evaluate “will support ongoing national vaccination campaigns in their decisions on how to optimally deploy the vaccine.”
The EMA mentioned final week that the usage of the vaccine in member nations’ vaccination campaigns would fluctuate primarily based on the severity of the pandemic and availability of vaccines in every nation, Danish authorities famous.
And within the case of Denmark, they mentioned, the nation has already made progress vaccinating the older age teams at highest danger of turning into severely in poor health, and has vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna at its disposal.
Danish authorities mentioned analysis and scientific research in Denmark revealed a “higher than expected frequency” within the variety of blood clotting occasions, notably in veins within the mind, following vaccination.
Brostrøm described the state of affairs as “a known risk of severe adverse effects from vaccination with AstraZeneca, even if the risk in absolute terms is slight.”
Brostrøm emphasised that the AstraZeneca vaccine remains to be authorised. He additionally mentioned that the nation might reintroduce it at a later level if the state of affairs modifications.
“If Denmark were in a completely different situation and in the midst of a violent third outbreak, for example, and a healthcare system under pressure – and if we had not reached such an advanced point in our rollout of the vaccines – then I would not hesitate to use the vaccine, even if there were rare but severe complications associated with using it,” Brostrøm mentioned.
The AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t at the moment getting used within the U.S., although the corporate has mentioned it’s going to search emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is reviewing its personal experiences of uncommon blood clotting circumstances — six out of almost 7 million doses — within the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA on Tuesday really helpful its use be paused “out of an abundance of caution” whereas it evaluations knowledge.
That similar day, the corporate announced it could “proactively delay” the rollout of its vaccine in Europe. On the topic of Johnson & Johnson, Danish well being officers mentioned they’re intently monitoring the danger assessments initiated by authorities within the U.S. and Europe, and can cooperate with analysis into the protection and efficacy of that and all COVID-19 vaccines.